Knoxville, Tenn. (UT Sports)-- Tennessee softball co-head coaches Ralph Weekly and Karen Weekly announced the addition of six newcomers as part of the No. 2-ranked signing class for 2018.
"We can describe this class in three words: competitive, versatile and deep," said co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly. "These six student-athletes overflow with competitive spirit. Each of them are winners and approach everything with a champion's mindset."
The Lady Vols have the No. 2 recruiting class in 2018, according to FloSoftball. All six of the program's signees are ranked in the FloSoftball's Hot 100 Rankings for the Class of 2018 -- including five players in the top 75.
Ally Shipman (No. 2), sister of former Lady Vol All-American Madison Shipman, Ashley Rogers (No. 12), Gracie Osbron (No. 61), Kaitlin Parsons (No. 68), Madison Pacini (No. 71), and Kaili Phillips (No. 121) comprise the Lady Vols' signing class.
"Every player is versatile and can do multiple things to help our team win, which really helps in matchup situations with the way the college game has evolved. This is definitely one of the deepest classes we've recruited in terms of talent and softball IQ, and each of these young ladies has a chance to significantly impact Tennessee softball during her career," stated the Weekly's.
They will be eligible for competition starting with the 2018-19 academic year.
Gracie Osbron · 5-7 · Catcher/Infield · Henry County HS · Paris, Tenn.
Osbron comes to Tennessee from Henry County High School in Paris, Tenn. As a junior for Henry County, she hit .506 in 87 at-bats with 43 runs, 32 RBIs and 10 home runs. She was a member of the 2017 Southern Force 16U squad that won the ASA Southern National Championship and ASA National Championship. Since joining the varsity team, she has a .517 batting average, 109 hits, .571 on base percentage, 76 RBIs and 107 runs. Osbron also played basketball for Henry County and was named District MVP during her sophomore year. She chose Tennessee because of the great atmosphere on campus and she wants to be a part of a national championship softball team.
The Weekly's on Osbron…
"Gracie is one of the most athletic players we have ever recruited to Tennessee. She could just as easily be going to college on a basketball scholarship. Her versatility is a real plus – she has an incredible pop time behind the plate and also makes plays at shortstop that you just can't teach."
Madison Pacini · 5-6 · OF/C · Bonita Vista HS · San Diego, Calif.
Pacini comes to Rocky Top from Bonita Vista High School in San Diego, Calif. Pacini has been named to the FloSoftball All-America Team and spent three years on the CIF San Diego All-Academic Team. She was a SoCal A's Invitational Semifinalist 2017 (SoCal Chopper), 2017 PGF Shootout Semifinalist (SoCal Choppers), 2014 14u ASA/USA National Champion (SoCal A's Quarles), 2014 14u PPGF Runner-up (SoCal A's Quarles), 2015 18u PGF Runner-up (SoCal A's Richardson) and 2016 18u IDT Boulder Champion (SoCal A's Richardson). She will team up with SoCal Choppers teammate Shipman on Rocky Top. Pacini was named Bonita Vista High School Female Student-Athlete of the Year in her freshman and junior years, and she was a member of the Sports Medicine Club (helping injured athletes), the Sloth Club (supporting animals) and Baron Buddies – Special Needs. She is also involved with her high school's basketball and volleyball teams. Pacini chose Tennessee over South Carolina, Arizona, UCLA and Oklahoma because of the softball program, academic programs and campus atmosphere.
The Weekly's on Pacini…
"Maddi brings a powerful bat to the lineup and has proven herself offensively against some of the best teams in the nation. She will surprise you with her speed and how much ground she can cover in the outfield. We love her drive to be the best player she can possibly be."
Kaitlin Parsons · 5-7 · IF/OF · Los Alamitos HS · Long Beach, Calif.
Parsons is another California product, hailing from Long Beach. Parsons is a senior at Los Alamitos High School, which is the same school that produced former Lady Vol and NFCA All-Region pick Megan Geer and current Lady Vol Jenna Holcomb. In 2017, Parsons was named to the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Softball Dream-Team Second Team. She helped lead her team to a CIF SS Championship and a No. 1 national ranking by MaxPreps. Parsons is also active in community service as a member of the National Charity League.
The Weekly's on Parsons…
"Kaitlin has only begun to scratch the surface of her potential as a softball player. She reminds us of Sarah Fekete at this stage of her career – fast, athletic, skilled, and a leader on the field. She can play middle infield or outfield and has a terrific arm. Her intelligence will help her make a quick transition to college softball."
Kaili Phillips · 5-7 · IF/C · Silverdale Baptist Academy · Ooltewah, Tenn.
Phillips will join the Lady Vols after completing a standout career at Silverdale Baptist Academy. During her junior campaign, she led the District 5-A champions in batting average (.735), home runs (11), RBIs (58) and doubles (14), while tying for the lead in steals (12). Phillips and fellow Tennessee signee Ashley Rogers are both members of the Tennessee Fury Premier travel team. Phillips chose Tennessee because she wants to help bring a national championship to her home state.
The Weekly's on Phillips…
"We don't know if we have ever seen a player who competes with more passion and intensity than Kaili. We can't wait to see that energy in Orange on our field everyday. Her skill set allows her to play infield corner, outfield, or catch, and she runs incredibly well. She loves to hit and has the potential to hit it out every at bat."
Ashley Rogers · 5-10 · Pitcher · Meigs County HS · Athens, Tenn.
Rogers hails from Athens, Tenn. and has been a part of two state championship teams at Meigs County High School. She was named the 2016-17 Gatorade Tennessee Softball Player of the Year. During her junior year at Meigs County, she led the Tigers (41-3) to a Class A state championship and compiled a 33-3 record and a 0.27 ERA. Rogers struck out 441 batters with just 10 walks in 208 innings pitched. She also had a .406 batting average with seven home runs and 45 RBIs. She was an All-State honoree and the Class A Miss Softball winner as a sophomore, as well as the Chattanooga Times Free Press Best of Preps Player of the Year. Rogers went 6-1 during the TSSAA Class A Softball State Championship playoffs en route to her second state title. Rogers is also a member of the National Honor Society and has been on the "A" Honor Roll each year. She is No. 1 in her class at Meigs County and received the Outstanding Achievement Award in English her sophomore year and the Outstanding Achievement Award in Science as a junior. Rogers chose Tennessee because it is her dream school and she grew up a Tennessee fan.
The Weekly's on Rogers…
"We are so excited that one of the top pitchers in the nation is a young lady who lives an hour from campus and grew up dreaming of being a Lady Vol. Ashley has all the traits of a great pitcher – velocity, movement, change of speeds, composure and presence. She has proven herself in pressure situations and won championships. Her hitting ability is an added bonus."
Ally Shipman · 6-0 · Catcher · Valencia HS · Valencia, Calif.
Shipman comes to Rocky Top from Valencia, Calif., A standout catcher and hitter for Valencia High School, Shipman batted .613 (49-for-80) with 15 home runs, 39 RBIs, 11 doubles, two triples and 40 runs scored her junior year. She also had a .726 on-base percentage, 1.363 slugging percentage and 14 stolen bases. Shipman also received the Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award for Softball, was a member of the Spanish Honor Society and received of the Viking Valor Award for Spanish. Shipman helped lead her club team, So Cal Choppers, to a third-place finish at the PGF National Tournament. Shipman chose Tennessee because it's like a second home to her and she loves Knoxville, the coaches and the atmosphere on the UT campus.
The Weekly's on Shipman…
"Our bond developed when Ally was only 8 years old and we feel very fortunate to bring a catcher of her caliber into our program. She is mature beyond her years on the field and knows how to lead a team behind the plate. She has all of the physical qualities you want in a catcher – big arm, great receiver, blocks and frames very well – but what sets her apart is she is such an exceptional student of the game."